Business travelers should fly under the radar
Thanks to the constant availability of today’s mobile network coverage and public Wi-Fi hotspots, we tend to take connectivity for granted. Our smartphones and mobile devices are with us wherever we go and, just like our house keys or bank cards, we would not dream of traveling without them.
While large enterprises and small businesses encourage employees to stay productive by working on the road, connecting to corporate networks while traveling increases potential security risks.
Potential Wi-Fi hotspot attacks and increased checks of electronic devices at airports are forcing companies to adopt stricter travel policies. Measures may include equipment checks before, during and after trips as well as enabling secure communication methods.
A secure virtual private network (VPN) allows traveling employees to always send company confidential data privately so that, figuratively speaking, they fly under the radar whenever they connect to the corporate network.
Today, it is considered perfectly normal for employees to connect to the office and continue working while traveling. Though, it’s a dangerous world as travelers can be exposed to a variety of cybersecurity risks. Risks may range from device theft, to state-sponsored surveillance, or data interception from a man-in-the-middle attack while using a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
More recently, checks on electronic devices at airports and borders have intensified in response to the threat of terrorism. In the U.S. alone, customs officials searched more than 30,000 electronic devices in 2017, compared with around 5,000 in 2012.
It’s no surprise that companies are increasingly preoccupied with protecting sensitive data from the risks that lie beyond the corporate network.
Employees increasingly share the same security concerns. Not only do employees want to be confident that their laptop is secured for remote working, they also demand guidance with what to do if data on a USB drive or smartphone is stolen. In a recent study by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) entitled Managing the Modern Business Traveler, 37 percent of managers reported a rise in employee enquiries concerning remote connectivity and communications while traveling.
Security Best Practices
Analysts at Forrester have published a report for security and risk professionals. Best Practices for Minimizing Business Travel Risk provides guidelines on everything from protecting against cyber theft, surveillance and physical dangers. Companies are advised to develop a three-stage check list for their traveling employees to help minimize the risks.
Before departure, the document suggests enabling full encryption on all digital devices being taken, deactivating USB ports, deploying VPN connectivity and installing management tools to allow devices to be wiped remotely should they be stolen.
IT professionals are also given tips that employees should follow during the trip. This includes briefing them on any local- or border customs and to always to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior.
Finally, Forrester counsels on steps to complete when a trip is over such as drawing up and ticking off a post-trip checklist, holding a de-brief meeting with the employee (even if nothing went wrong) and making sure company policies are up to date.
Don’t leave Without a VPN
Businesses are now adjusting their security posture to bring it into line with the modern way of working. It’s no longer a question of managing employee access based on where they sit, it’s more important these days to be able to authenticate them automatically based on the device and the software they are using.
Front and foremost among such security measures is a VPN. A VPN automatically authenticates remote users whenever they connect with the company’s IT services. It creates a private tunnel between the user and the network shielding company confidential data from potential onlookers while using public Wi-Fi in malls, train stations and hotels during business trips.
In summary, connecting digital devices to corporate networks during business trips has become an accepted part of everyday working life. Yet, the number of ways in which sensitive company information could be lost or stolen while traveling is growing.
Securing remote connections using a VPN is the best way to let traveling employees send company confidential data privately. In this way, they are able to (figuratively speaking) fly under the radar wherever their business travels take them.